Distracted Driver Accidents
Car Accidents & Driver Distraction Lawyer
Los Angeles Car Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers
It is no secret that car accidents caused by driver distraction are on the rise. Top on the list is texting while driving, but there are other ways a driver’s attention can be diverted from the road. It literally takes only a few seconds for a driver to be doing something other than driving attentively, resulting in a dangerous or deadly accident.
The driver does not have to be speeding or otherwise driving recklessly for a serious accident to occur, causing property damage, injuries and death. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that was caused, even if only in part, by another driver who was distracted, you need the help of a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to take action and help you to pursue fair compensation for damages. The damages sought are both economic and non-economic.
Why You Need a Driver Distraction Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA
Other common ways a driver can be distracted include using a cell phone for emailing or browsing the internet, turning around to talk to someone in the back seat, manipulating dashboard knobs and buttons to use the radio or navigation system, reading written material such as a book or map, fumbling with food or drinks, and looking in the mirror while applying makeup or shaving. Any of these would be major factors in determining liability in a car accident. Need an attorney for your car accident in Los Angeles, CA? The statute of limitations in California can run out, so do not wait another day to retain the best injury attorney you can find.
Working with Ghozland Law Firm
Your life can change in an instant when you are injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver. Serious injuries, such as head trauma, broken bones, internal injuries, and lacerations can require hospitalization and surgery. Many can take months, even years to resolve, or could be permanent. Lost wages and income can create a huge financial problem for you and your family.
Our firm, Ghozland Law Firm, has much experience in handling these claims and in seeing that our clients justly compensated. For more information, contact us today.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts a person's attention from the primary task of driving. In the city of Los Angeles, distracted driving is defined as any non-driving activity with the potential to distract a driver and increase the risk of a collision, such as using a cell phone, texting, eating, and drinking, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, watching videos, adjusting a radio, or interacting with passengers.
According to the city's municipal code, "no person shall drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless the telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking and is used in that manner while driving." Violating this law can result in hefty fines and other penalties.
Given LA's high volume of traffic and drivers, legislation aimed at reducing distracted driving is critical to improving road safety for all.
The city of Los Angeles takes distracted driving very seriously due to the immense safety risks it poses. With over 4 million residents and some of the busiest roads in the country, LA has a vested interest in promoting attentive driving and penalizing distracted driving behaviors.
The legal definition of distracted driving covers a wide range of activities, reflecting an understanding that any diversion of attention from the road, no matter how seemingly minor, can have deadly consequences.
By upholding strict anti-distracted driving laws and raising public awareness about responsible driving habits, LA hopes to make its roads safer for all who travel on them.
What are the most common causes of distracted driving accidents?
The city of Los Angeles suffers from a high rate of distracted driving accidents. Some of the leading causes of these unfortunate and preventable collisions include:
Cell phone use: Studies show that over 50% of LA drivers admit to frequently using their cell phones while operating their vehicles. This results in drivers taking their attention away from the road to read or send text messages, check social media, make calls, and more. Even just a few seconds of looking away from the road can lead to an accident.
Eating and drinking: Many LA residents have long commutes and busy schedules, so they end up eating and drinking in their cars to save time. However, this also diverts the driver's attention from monitoring their surroundings and the road. Hot coffee, messy burgers, and other foods that require utensils or two hands to consume are especially dangerous.
Adjusting audio controls: Fiddling with the radio, CD player, or other audio controls in the vehicle may seem like a minor distraction, but it still pulls the driver's focus away from driving. This can be particularly hazardous when drivers take their eyes off the road for an extended time to find a specific radio station or playlist.
Overall, the high volume of traffic and fast-paced lifestyle in Los Angeles contributes to an abundance of distracted driving incidents. Through public awareness campaigns and stricter enforcement of distracted driving laws, the city hopes to improve road safety for all residents.
With everyone doing their part to minimize distractions and stay focused while driving, LA can work toward reducing distracted driving accidents and saving lives.
What damages can I recover in a distracted driver accident case?
A victim of a distracted driving accident in Los Angeles can potentially collect significant damages to cover the costs and impacts of the collision. Some of the common damages include:
- Medical bills: All medical costs directly resulting from the car accident injuries can be recovered, including ambulance transport, emergency room visits, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and prescription medication. These bills can quickly add up for serious injuries.
- Lost wages: If the injuries from the accident result in time missed from work, the victim can recover the lost income. This can include both past lost wages as well as future lost earning capacity if the injuries permanently impact the ability to work or reduce earning potential.
- Pain and suffering: California allows for the recovery of non-economic damages to compensate for the pain, discomfort, and overall suffering resulting from the injuries. The amount awarded depends on the specifics of the injuries and their impact on the victim's life. More severe, permanent injuries that cause ongoing pain or suffering tend to result in higher pain and suffering damages.
- Property damage: The costs to repair or replace the victim's vehicle and any other property damaged in the collision can be recovered. Rental car costs and other transportation expenses may also be included while the primary vehicle is being repaired.
In total, the damages from a distracted driving accident can easily reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for severe, life-changing injuries. An experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney can help victims of distracted driving accidents recover the full damages they are owed.
With strong evidence of the other driver's negligence and detailed documentation of all losses and expenses, victims have a good chance of securing a fair settlement or judgment.
How can I prove that the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident?
Proving that the defendant driver was distracted at the time of the accident can be challenging but not impossible for the victim. Here are some strategies and evidence that can be used:
- Witness testimony: If there were eyewitnesses to the accident, especially those in vehicles nearby, they may have noticed the defendant driver looking down at their phone, talking on the phone, eating, or drinking, or otherwise not paying full attention to the road. Their testimony as to what they observed the defendant doing right before the accident can be powerful evidence of distraction.
- Phone records: If the defendant was using their phone, a subpoena of their phone records may show an active call or data usage right before the time of the accident. This is hard evidence that the phone was in use and distracted the driver.
- Dashcam or traffic footage: If there is video footage of the defendant's vehicle in the minutes leading up to the accident, their distracted behavior may have been captured on video. For example, a dashcam in another vehicle or a traffic camera may have recorded the driver holding and looking at their phone. This type of direct video evidence is very compelling.
- Admissions: Sometimes drivers will admit in the aftermath of an accident that they were distracted, such as looking at their phone. Any statements by the defendant acknowledging distraction can be used as an admission of fault, especially if made to police officers or witnesses. Of course, the defendant may later claim they did not remember what happened or deny what they said initially.
By gathering available evidence like witness testimony, phone records, video footage, and admissions, the victim has a chance of proving the defendant's distraction and negligence, which can be important for determining fault and liability. With the help of an experienced attorney, a victim can make a strong case against a distracted driver.
What if the other driver denies being distracted?
If the at-fault driver denies being distracted in a Los Angeles distracted driving accident, it can make the legal process more complicated for the victims. Without an admission of fault or witnesses to the distraction, it may be difficult to conclusively prove that distracted driving caused the crash.
However, an experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney can utilize several strategies to build a case for distracted driving:
- Investigate the driver's cell phone records to show they were using their phone at the time of the crash. Cell phone companies log the time and duration of all calls and texts, which can be obtained with a subpoena.
- Analyze the details of the crash to show the driver's inattention. For example, if the driver rear-ended another vehicle or swerved abruptly, it suggests they were not attentively monitoring the road. An accident reconstruction expert can help determine the driver's actions and attentiveness leading up to the crash.
- Question the driver under oath in a deposition. Even if they deny distraction initially, their story may change or contradict itself under direct questioning. Discrepancies and inconsistencies in their testimony can help cast doubt on their claims.
- Bring in expert witnesses to explain how and why distracted driving can lead to the specific actions that caused the crash. Their testimony can help the judge or jury understand how the evidence points to distraction, even without an outright admission.
While it presents challenges, an experienced attorney has tools at their disposal to build a compelling case for distracted driving. With diligent investigation and persuasive evidence and testimony, they can show the judge or jury that distraction was the true cause of the crash, even if the at-fault driver denies being distracted.
Can I still recover damages if I was also partially at fault for the accident?
Even if a victim of a Los Angeles distracted driving accident was partially responsible for the accident, they may still be able to recover damages from the other driver. California follows a "comparative negligence" system, which means that a plaintiff's negligence is compared to the negligence of the defendant.
If the plaintiff's negligence is not greater than the defendant's, the plaintiff can still recover damages, but the award is reduced by their percentage of fault.
For example, if a jury finds that a plaintiff who was texting while driving and suffered injuries in an accident with another distracted driver was 30% responsible for the accident, and the other driver was 70% responsible, the plaintiff could still recover 70% of the damages from the other driver.
While their negligence would reduce the damage award, it would not act as an absolute bar to recovery. The critical determination is assessing the relative fault of the parties, not whether the plaintiff was entirely without fault.
Of course, the details of an accident and the relative fault of the parties can be complex issues, requiring thorough investigations and often conflicting expert testimony to determine. But under California's comparative negligence system, even plaintiffs who were not entirely without fault for an accident may have legal options to pursue recovery against other responsible parties.
If their negligence was not greater than the other party's, they would not be barred from pursuing a damage claim.
What Are Common Injuries Associated with Distracted Driving Accidents?
Distracted driving is a growing problem on the roads of Los Angeles and leads to tens of thousands of car accidents each year in the city. These accidents often result in severe injuries with lasting impacts on victims. Some of the most common injuries from distracted driving accidents in LA include:
- Head and neck injuries: When drivers take their attention off the road, they are more likely to rear-end the vehicle in front of them or be hit from behind by another distracted driver. These types of collisions frequently lead to whiplash and other head and neck injuries that can cause chronic pain, headaches, and reduced range of motion.
- Broken bones: Distracted drivers are more likely to hit pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, which can result in broken bones, especially in the legs and arms. Collisions at high speeds greatly increase the risk of severe, open bone fractures that require intensive surgeries and physical therapy to heal.
- Internal organ damage: In high-impact collisions, distracted driving accidents can cause damage to internal organs like the spleen, kidneys, and liver. This type of injury may not be immediately apparent but can lead to life-threatening complications if left undetected or untreated. Seat belts and airbags provide some protection but cannot prevent all internal injuries during a crash.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, over 57,000 people are injured or killed in car accidents in LA County each year, with distracted driving contributing to thousands of these collisions and resulting in injuries. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that over 3,000 people were killed and 400,000 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in the United States in 2018.
In LA, one particularly devastating example was the case of a 16-year-old girl named Natalie who was walking on the sidewalk when she was struck by a distracted driver going 40 mph. The impact shattered her pelvis and femur, requiring extensive surgeries and months of physical therapy to learn to walk again. Though Natalie survived, she will live with pain and a limp for the rest of her life due to the permanent damage.
For those inside vehicles, LA's stop-and-go traffic and congestion increase the risk of rear-end collisions when drivers are distracted. Even at relatively low speeds, these crashes can cause debilitating whiplash and neck injuries.
According to Cedars-Sinai, whiplash occurs when the head and neck are jerked abruptly, straining the neck's tendons and ligaments. While whiplash may seem minor, over half of the sufferers experience long-term pain and decreased range of motion, with treatment sometimes requiring surgery.
To reduce these catastrophic yet preventable injuries, LA has launched public awareness campaigns about the dangers of distracted driving and increased penalties for those caught using phones behind the wheel.
However, stronger measures such as mandatory devices blocking phone use in moving vehicles may be needed to truly improve road safety in this city where distracted driving remains an epidemic. By understanding the devastating impacts, from life-changing injuries to loss of life, the people of LA can work together to make their roads safer for all.